The (Secular) Problem With Gay Marriage

Those who advocate for same-sex marriage take it as a given that there is no possible reason (other than animus) why anyone could object to “equality” – that there is no legitimate argument as to why gays should not be viewed as equal to married couples.

The problem with this is that, while there is no compelling reason why gays should not be granted the right to be recognized as life partners, marriage is about more than life partnership. There is a compelling reason why gays should not be recognized as procreative: because it’s not true, and the government has no right to make anyone lie. Not even to foster the illusion of equality.

It is an abuse of authority. Also, it won’t work.

Every problem I have ever heard articulated about gay marriage (and, yes, there are legitimate concerns about gay marriage) come down to this deception, this cognitive dissonance.

It is rarely questioned that marriage should be based on love, but given the marriage crisis, the question must be asked. Why should marriage be based on something that will die after seven or eight years?

From nydwracu niþgrim, nihtbealwa mæst

Gays argue that marriage is “not procreative”. If they genuinely believed this, they could have no problem with the idea of acting as if life partnership were somehow separate from procreative activity. Consider:

  • Gary would marry his partner Joe, but there would be no reason why Joe would have to be viewed as the “father” to Gary’s son.
  • Joe would be recognized as a stepparent (which is what he is), not a “second daddy”.
  • The child – let’s call him David – would be allowed to know and have a relationship with his mother.

To not know a mother – to be deliberately deprived of the chance to have this unique and valuable relationship, this experience that most people recognize as irreplaceable – who has the right to do this to a child? The more they justify about how the child “doesn’t mind”, the more abusive it sounds to my ears. The question is not whether a bunch of carefully contrived tests can “prove” the child is reasonably normal, according to this or that standard of what constitutes normalness. The question is this: why on Earth should anyone believe that parents who would deliberately do this to a child deserve to be viewed as “loving” or “committed”?

Obviously the people involved are not committed to the child’s welfare. They are committed to justifying why the child’s welfare is not really very important. Their own arguments insist that relationships are important, experiences are important – and they offer, as proof, evidence that society values these things, that these things are viewed as desirable as well as irreplaceable – but how is the chance to have a father (rather than a stepmother) any less valuable than the right to have a wife (rather than a husband)? The standards they apply to themselves do not apply to their kids, and if you ask them why they’ll tell you it’s because shut up.

The claim that even thinking such thoughts can only be the product of animus against homsexuals is bogus: not all homosexuals  do this (and not all the people who do this are homosexuals). Despite what the gay rights crowd says, they don’t really speak for all gay people. Some gays enter “coparenting” contracts – or even go so far as to marry gay or lesbian members of the opposite sex – precisely so that their child can have an intact family. Loving parents want what is best for their child, and there is no reason at all to suppose that whether you’re gay or straight matters at all to what the child needs. (Likewise, “single by choice” straight parents are just as selfish to their children; nobody has the right to use children that way).

But more importantly, there is no reason why any homosexual couple needs to do this. The whole point of gay rights was supposed to be about “not living a lie”. That’s a compelling argument. They should honor the integrity of it. It’s a false dichotomy to say that either gay people must live “in the closet” or they must be accepted as capable of having children together. Either extreme involves lies, and lies aren’t as victimless as “sexual revolution” warriors would have us believe.

The reality is that the only way two men or two women can come by a child – whether via adoption or via surrogacy – is if their claim, their right to possess a child, is prioritized above the child’s claim: the right to expect that the guardians charged with protecting their interests will do just that. No person, young or otherwise, should ever be stuck with a guardian who prioritizes another person’s interests over their own when determining how to resolve their custody case.

The child has the right to be placed with the best,  most loving, most committed home – the one best able to meet the child’s needs – without “political correctness” or anyone’s supposedly equal right to have a child being considered. Children are not goods, and there is no “right” to have equal access to an adopted child.

Adoption is supposed to be about finding the best parents for a needy child,

not the best child for needy parents.

But it isn’t just the fact that they’re not being fair to their kids. It’s also the entire notion of defining what it is to be a part of a family.

…it would end the public legal recognition of a social reality defined in terms of the natural link between sex and procreation. In direct consequence, the natural children of heterosexual couples would then be only legally their children if the state decided that they might be legally “adopted” by them.


We are talking about nothing less than changing the definition of what it means to be a family – from a biological fact to a choice that ultimately comes from government recognition, something government has the right to bestow – and something they can and do take away, not based on objective standards of right and wrong (as in adoption) but based on the desires – the personal fulfillment or pleasure – of the wealthy family member, at the expense of other family members who are either not recognized as family members or are assumed (presumed) to “not mind”.

Gay marriage claims are necessarily (if covertly) based on the argument that adoption should not be constrained only to what’s good for the child, but should be permitted even at the expense of what’s good for the child. Gay rights in this case mean changing the very definition of what a family is – so that not only is marriage itself primarily about the personal pleasure of the adult participants (at the expense of any other familial claims), but so that even the act of having a child is viewed as a consumption experience – something for adults to do for the purpose of personal fulfillment or enjoyment.

Given that the institution of marriage has spent thousands of years evolving away from this view of family-as-personal-possession, that’s not minor, harmless, or inconsequential. The institution of marriage cannot continue to serve to protect vulnerable family members from being used, exploited, abandoned, cast out, or harmed by more powerful members of the kinship unit if the institution is openly legitimizing the idea that powerful family members have a right to use, exploit, abandon, cast out, or reassign the parentage of other family members.

And even granted that we are going to allow family members to be subject to abuse, rather than having certain inherent rights, what is the basis of this change in kinship rules?  “I want.” But the problem with “I want” has always been that it’s just not possible for everyone to have equal access to some of that.

Which is why the legal institutions of family and kinship evolved the way they have in the first place. Because it’s fun to exploit, but it’s not nearly so much fun to be the one exploited.

Kinship bonds are different from any other type of bond. You can wish as hard as you like that your best friend were your sister, but she isn’t. You can pretend she is, but that takes energy. A lot of energy. Also: the affection has to be reciprocated.

The minute either one of you stops playing, the charade starts falling apart.

This is why the obligations and commitments of family are tied to kinship: as you can’t choose your kin, so too you also can’t unchoose your kin. Your mom will always be your mom. You can deny her, disown her, pretend she isn’t there – but she still is. That’s different from what friendship is.

Kinship is stable.

Affection is fickle.

Every world religion except humanism (and those branches of religion – or denominations – that have become half-humanist hybrids) have recognized this obligation associated with family and kinship. The bonds holding a family are recognized as sacred. This serves a practical function: it holds society together. When the obligations of kinship become optional, families fragment.

Families built out of wishful thinking, cognitive dissonance, and make-believe appear happy and may be genuinely loving, when times are good, but structurally they are not the same. The family structure is built out of straw, not brick; the “ties that bind” are weak bonds, not strong. Such a family lacks resilience. Such a family is plagued by unspeakable truths: every member of the family knows, on some level, that the bonds are not real – that they are more fragile than real bonds, and that they need to be protected. Taboos are not healthy. Cognitive dissonance, tiptoeing around things that are true and that maybe need to be said – but cannot be said – this is the very essence of what a dysfunctional family is.

And it takes energy. Taboos and fragility adds stress. It is this underlying anxiety that makes it so easy for gay couples to pressure their kids into not speaking the forbidden words. The kids must know, on some level, that it’s not safe to speak freely; inadvertently revealing the emperor’s lack of fine clothes could tear the family – or the illusion of family – apart.

Even adoptive families have this issue, to some extent. Adoptive families, unlike the family headed by a gay couple, did not at any point in time prioritize the parents’ desires over the child’s needs. They never took any action to deliberately deprive the child of anything – not a biological tie, nor a mother- or father-relationship. This gives the adoptive family a legitimacy and a credibility that gay families can only pretend to. They are able to allow the child time and space to grieve his losses without any conflict of interest; they can honestly say “we want only what is best for you”; they can credibly say, “We love you” – and the child can believe it, without any lurking “if you loved me then why would you…” questions to taint the bond. Adoptive families meet high standards and agree to selfless terms. And yet the children of adoption are more likely to have difficulties than children from intact families. Adoptive families appear to have more difficulty staying cohesive through trying or traumatic events than biologically intact families do. Adoption requires that a crucial but absent bond be “compensated for”. It requires extra love and extra commitment.

The problem is even more complicated when surrogacy, rather than adoption, is involved. Adoptive children find it comforting to hear reassurances such as “your mother gave you to us because she wanted you to have a better home than she could give you”. Saying that it shouldn’t matter is futile; it does matter. It matters in the same way it matters whether your husband and his secretary really were just working last night. It matters in the same way it matters whether your girlfriend actually gave her consent. There are lots of things in this world that don’t seem like they ought to matter, yet do. No human being wants to be built out of donated body parts, hatched in a rented broodmare. No person wants to know he exists because he was deliberately put together for the pleasure of the person who paid good money for him.

Not sure I understand this argument fully.  How does marriage between one man and one woman guarantee and protect the rights of children to know who their mom and dad are?  I know many straight parents who adopt from all over the world.  Those children are not always guaranteed to know their biological parents.

From Oy Gevalt! Techy Kvetching

The argument for gay-headed family-making is that it is “just like adoption”. It is not. Adoption grants government a very limited right to “reassign” children to homes, expressly constrained to only one purpose:  finding the best possible home for orphaned and abandoned children. Gay marriage is about lifting those constraints. Instead of adoption being about helping children in a bad situation, it becomes an institution that exploits children in a bad situation – and, in many cases, deliberately puts them into a bad situation.

(And this does not even begin to cover concerns over the exploitation of impoverished “egg donors and gestational carriers” – creatures who used to be known as “women”, before this new form of prostitution was invented:

The story is presented from the point of view of a woman called Offred…one of a class of individuals kept as concubines (“handmaids”) for reproductive purposes by the ruling class in an era of declining births. The book is told in the first person by Offred, who describes her life during her third assignment as a handmaid, in this case to Fred (referred to as “The Commander”)….Through her eyes, the structure of Gilead’s society is described, including the several different categories of women and their circumscribed lives in the new theocracy*….)

Adoption is a form of amputation – it is the amputation of part of a child’s family and identity information. Amputation is an emergency procedure. You don’t go around mutilating things except when it’s necessary, and even when mutilation must occur it must be done in accordance with the needs of the patient. To argue that adoption “works great” so therefore we should lift the constraints and let people do it any way they like is like saying that so-and-so is doing fine with his prosthetic limb and in fact there are certain advantages to having a one-legged kid, so why shouldn’t I be able to whack off my kid’s limbs just because I want to? The answer: adoption “works great” in comparison with the alternatives – foster homes and orphanages. But it’s not clear adoption will continue to “work great” now that we’ve stopped expecting those who place children for adoption to prioritize the child’s interests above all other considerations.

Adoption that isn’t about what’s best for the child isn’t adoption. It’s buying and selling children.

The whole idea behind gay marriage is that it supposedly doesn’t really matter if we’re actually related to each other or not. On this theory, if someone scrambled up all the babies in a hospital, it would be selfish and petty to mind, or to care too much about whether you got your own real child. I’d say anyone who seriously believes this should go find a little kid and tell her she’s really adopted, just to see what happens next, but that’s not even a good joke: the reason adoptive parents are today expected to tell their children the truth from early childhood is because it turns out that when people find out they are adopted, they are seriously traumatized.

It does matter. It’s who we are. It’s our identity.

The reality of a family that isn’t really a family is that it’s a fantasy. During good times, it may be “just as good”. When hard times hits, though, the family is more at risk than a real family. In the event of a divorce, there is no longer any motivation to put in the energy and the work to sustain the fantasy that “those people” are related to you.

It is painful for people to share their child with the person they just broke up with. It’s hard to do even when you know you have to. People tend to not do it if they can justify getting away with not doing it.

But when the family was never real to start with, divorce or breakup is much worse: it isn’t just “those people aren’t related to you any more”. It’s that “they never were related to you” – it’s all just a very Kafkaesque game. In a real family, your father can’t ever stop being your father, but in a make-believe family, the parent in question never really was your parent. The child knew all along it wasn’t real, but was told that reality didn’t have to matter. But it does matter if there’s a breakup, because the whole point of choosing to create a make-believe family instead of a real one in the first place is because the parents who made the choices wanted to avoid unpleasant duties, obligation and commitment. They wanted to indulge and prioritize their own feelings. If they’d had the maturity and selflessness to handle coparenting together after the feelings wear off, they would have had the maturity to not create such a mess in the first place.

Consider the case of Miller v. Jenkins. Janet Jenkins was never in any way related to Isabella Miller except in that she was married to Isabella’s mother, and one of the benefits of marriage is the right to be presumed the father of your wife’s child. Of course, for all that gays claim that they believe “marriage is not procreative” they do think they are entitled to claim this expressly procreative benefit – even though they reject the obligation that customarily goes with that obligation, which is to refrain from making babies with anyone except one’s spouse.  (Until the Sexual Revolution “liberated” us from our obligations, adultery was recognized as a crime.)

But the law requires judges to presume that, unless proven otherwise, it’s always in a child’s best interest to uphold that child’s right to a relationship with both biological parents, and so a law that was supposed to protect the rights of children instead was used to turn Isabella Miller into a commodity – something Janet Jenkins has a right to access, enjoy, and experience.  This particular ruling was at the expense of what was actually best for Isabella Miller. The girl’s real mother and Janet Jenkins together committed a fraud against this child, and the state failed to protect the child, her rights, or her interests.

This fraud, and the corresponding evasion of obligation, is also linked to the religious objections and concerns.

I am a strong proponent of the “melting pot” ideal of the U.S.A., so I do believe that religious people have to accept that gays have equal rights. But in this case, it is the gays – or, more accurately, the humanists – who are the aggressors. The question is not whether gay people are forced to accept religious teachings, but rather whether religious people are to be forced to accept humanist teachings. The DOMA ruling suggests that the Supreme Court is not prepared to recognize any right to “discriminate” – where “not discriminating” means those who embrace traditional Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Confucian beliefs are “hateful bigots” because they do not embrace the Unitarian Universalist views on marriage, sexuality, obligation/duty, sin/concupiscence, family/kinship, and even the question of whether truth matters.

That’s beyond what the government has the authority to legitimately demand.

The logical compromise is to recognize that gays have special needs – while also recognizing that having special needs does not mean a blank check entitling them to anything they want. There is no right to freely mix and match the best aspects of disability rights and other types of civil rights, so as to have the best of all worlds and the obligations of none.

The correct frame of reference is not to compare them against interracial marriage (despite the rainbow logo), because unlike interracial couples they are not seeking equality of opportunity; their argument requires equality of outcome – merely having equal access to existing marriage laws is not enough; they need special accommodations; they cannot have justice (they claim) unless they have the chance to do whatever it takes to have the same end result (happiness in marriage), even though it means granting them rights above and beyond what heterosexuals are granted.

But disability claims are supposed to be limited to what is legitimately needed, and  I have yet to see any good argument explaining either why they need to be viewed as a procreative couple when they’re not.

Nor do I see why the rules of marriage itself ought to be changed, if accommodating gay peoples’ needs were the true goal (as opposed to various other concerns, real and imagined). Instead of redefining marriage so that sexual pleasure and emotional fulfillment is the point and procreation is important only insofar as it promotes the happiness of adults, we should grant an exemption for homosexuals – while preserving the core values that do not need to be changed.

The reality is that marriage is equally about life partnership and about procreation; both aspects are important. They should be granted the right to split the benefits of marriage so that their lover is recognized as their partner, while their “baby mama” is recognized as the person they share a kinship tie with. This would be equal to what other stepfamilies do. Going back to my fictitious family, this means:

  • The child David’s mother (let’s call her Joy) should have the same claim on Gary’s benefits that a hetero “baby mama” or first wife would have under similar circumstances.
  • Likewise, Gary should have an equal and reciprocal first claim on Joy’s benefits – so if Joy ever marries Sam, Sam will simply have to accept that her procreative family has a claim that must be honored, including the right to certain benefits that are bestowed for the purpose of establishing a family (whether Sam is a he or a she really should not matter).
  • Joe should be recognized as Gary’s partner, and having all the rights and benefits that are not expressly procreative (because those procreative benefits belong rightfully to Gary’s “baby-mama” Joy).
  • Joe and Sam should both be identified as David’s stepfather(s) and/or stepmother(s), not as David’s “second” father or mother, just as with hetero unions where the parent marries someone other than the “baby mama” or “baby daddy”.

And, meanwhile, religious individuals are perfectly within their rights to believe that the sacrament of marriage (which is not necessarily the same as a civil marriage) is necessarily associated with a couple embracing both aspects of marriage, the partnership and the procreative.

I fully expect gay couples to begin visiting the more conservative churches, demanding that they marry them, and when these churches refuse to, for these couples to take a legal stance and sue the churches for denying them their constitutional right to be married.

From Canada Free Press

There’s also the question – which remains largely unexplored, as near as I can see – of how the political structure will be affected, and whether capitalism can even survive in a situation where the state – rather than biology – has the power to determine who is related to whom.

 First, gay marriage does affect straight marriage by forcing straights to radically impoverish their understanding of their own unions.  Second, this is an attack by the state on a rival social structure, the kinship group.

From Orthosphere

If one looks not just at the feelings, needs, and desires of gays, but at all the stakeholders involved, I don’t see how any other conclusion could be justified.

One day after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its rulings on gay marriage, two state House Democrats said Thursday that they will introduce a bill that would allow same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

State Reps. Brian Sims and Steve McCarter, both from the Philadelphia area, say they will push the bill in the state House of Representatives. Sims is the first openly gay lawmaker ever elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Pennsylvania state law prohibits same-sex marriage. However, Sims and McCarter want to take a shot at toppling that law.

From Penn Live/Patriot News

The state of Arizona might be one of the next few states to decide whether it would allow same-sex marriages after the Defense of Marriage Act was defeated Wednesday.

According to The Atlantic Wire, Arizona ranks fourth among states that are likely to pass same-sex legislation based on a compilation of recent polls.

We looked at the most recent public polling for each state to try and assess where action might be expected.

The polling suggests that states adjacent to those which have passed same-sex marriages or which show growing support for the passing of said legislation are most likely to follow suit.

Arizona is one of the few states which shows a support of 50 percent or more regarding gay marriage, and is behind New Jersey, Michigan and Virginia.


*Somehow what’s oppressive when people imagine Christians doing it is eminently justifiable when “the right people” are doing it. The practice of exploiting people as resources is not any less repugnant simply because it is done to indulge egos instead of being done to appease a straw-man caricature of the Christian God.

The concept of treating people as resources has a name: “Biological Colonialism“:

…the sanctity/equality of human life ethic—which holds that all human beings have equal moral worth—is collapsing…the commoditization and exploitation of the body parts and functions of the poor, [is] effectively treating human beings as mere natural resources to be exploited and/or harvested.